April 9, 2019

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit this morning seeking previously requested records related to the arrest, detention, and subsequent death of Kamyar Samimi, an Iranian man who died on December 2, 2017 while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody at the Aurora Contract Detention Facility, a for-profit detention center operated by GEO Group, Inc.

Mr. Samimi came to the United States as a student in 1976 and became a Legal Permanent Resident in 1978. ICE agents arrested him at his home on November 17, 2017 and kept him in ICE detention, where he died 15 days later. ICE still has not provided a thorough explanation as to what caused Mr. Samimi’s death. Meanwhile, multiple recent reports and complaints have highlighted concerns about medical care in ICE detention. 

“It has now been sixteen months since Mr. Samimi died, and ICE continues to keep the community in the dark about this tragedy,” said ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Arash Jahanian. “All we know is that ICE arrested a man who had lived in the U.S. for over four decades, and 15 days later he died in ICE’s care. The public deserves to know more and this lawsuit seeks that information.”

The ACLU of Colorado filed its first Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on December 20, 2017. In response, ICE produced only five pages, which had nothing to do with Mr. Samimi’s death. The ACLU of Colorado appealed and ICE responded on July 3, 2018, stating that its investigation of Mr. Samimi’s death had been completed and more documents would be forthcoming. But ICE has not produced any additional documents, nor has it indicated when it might be doing so.  

“Immigration detention facilities, like the one operated by GEO Group in Aurora, are all too often cloaked in secrecy, offering little to no transparency into the way detainees are treated within their walls,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “We are filing suit to further the public’s right to know what goes on in these secretive taxpayer-funded institutions.”

Resources:

View the FOIA request: https://aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/2017-12-20-ICE-Jahanian-FOIA-records-request.pdf

Human Rights Watch Report (5/17): Systemic Indifference: Dangerous and Substandard Medical Care in US Immigration Detention https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/05/08/systemic-indifference/dangerous-substandard-medical-care-us-immigration-detention

ACLU Report (2/16): Fatal Neglect: How ICE Ignored Deaths in Detention https://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/sites/default/files/reports/Fatal%20Neglect%20ACLU-DWN-NIJC.pdf

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